The Latest: Taliban capture northern Afghan city

AP News
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Posted: Sep 28, 2015 12:47 PM
The Latest: Taliban capture northern Afghan city

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The latest developments in a major Taliban assault on the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, where intense battles are underway with government forces (all times local).

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9:15 p.m.

Afghanistan says the Taliban have captured the northern city of Kunduz, the first time the insurgents have seized a major urban area since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi tells The Associated Press that "Kunduz city has collapsed into the hands of the Taliban."

The insurgents launched a massive assault on the city early Monday, seizing a courthouse, a hospital and other government buildings.

The international medical charity Doctors Without Borders says it has treated more than 100 wounded people.

The fall of Kunduz marks a major setback for Afghan government forces, who have struggled to combat the Taliban with limited aid from the U.S. and NATO, which shifted to a training and support role at the end of last year.

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8:40 p.m.

The international charity Doctors Without Borders says it has treated more than 100 wounded people in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz following a major Taliban assault.

Guilhem Molinie, the group's Afghanistan country representative, says its trauma center in Kunduz is "urgently treating dozens of wounded after heavy fighting in the city" and is at full capacity.

Molinie says 36 of the 102 patients the group has received were "in critical condition, with severe abdominal and head injuries."

He says the hospital added 18 beds, raising its total capacity to 110, to cope with "the unprecedented level of admissions."

Afghan police say the Taliban seized more than half the city, including a courthouse, a hospital and other government buildings.

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8:15 p.m.

The Taliban say they have captured the center of Kunduz, a strategic northern city, calling it the first provincial capital to fall to the insurgents since they were driven from power by the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid sent the claim to The Associated Press in an email on Monday, saying "Thanks to God."

Afghan police in Kunduz say hundreds of Taliban insurgents attacked the northern city early Monday, seizing more than half of it, including a courthouse, a hospital and other government buildings.

The Afghan government has described the situation in Kunduz as "fluid" and says President Ashraf Ghani is in contact with commanders there.

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7:30 p.m.

A senior U.S. defense official says the U.S. military is tracking what he described as an ongoing battle in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz.

The official said Monday that the U.S. is aware that the Taliban have taken control of a hospital and a number of government buildings, and that both the insurgents and Afghan security forces have sustained a significant number of casualties.

The official says early indications are that Afghan security forces are in position to throw back the attackers and regain control in Kunduz, although the outcome is still in doubt.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss an ongoing military operation.

— Robert Burns in Washington

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6:00 p.m.

A spokesman says Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is in "constant contact" with security commanders in the northern city of Kunduz, where the Taliban have launched a major assault and the situation is "fluid."

Deputy presidential spokesman Zafar Hashemi told The Associated Press that "our first priority is the safety and security of residents."

Local police say the insurgents have seized half of the strategically located city, including a courthouse, a hospital and other government buildings. If Kunduz falls it would be the first major city to be held by the Taliban since their government was toppled in the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.

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5:40 p.m.

Hussain Daoudi, an eyewitness in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, says he can hear "the sound of bullets and blasts almost everywhere in the city" after the Taliban launched a major assault.

Local police say the insurgents have seized more than half of the city, including a courthouse, a hospital and other government buildings.

Daoudi says that after the initial pre-dawn attack residents were told the battle was over, but that "everything changed this afternoon and Taliban fighters took control of different parts of the city."

The Taliban have not held a major Afghan city since their government was overthrown by the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

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4:45 p.m.

An Afghan police official says Taliban fighters have captured more than half of a major northern city after launching coordinated attacks.

Sayed Sarwar Hussaini, spokesman for the provincial police chief of Kunduz, told The Associated Press on Monday that gun battles are still underway between Taliban militants and Afghan government forces.

He says Taliban gunmen have occupied a number of government buildings in the city, including a hospital and a courthouse.

Kunduz city, capital of the province of the same name, has twice come under attack by the Taliban this year. The strategically situated city was once one of Afghanistan's wealthiest.